How do you get engaged employees? Wrong Question

“How do I get them to care?” “How do I get them to take ownership?” “Why aren’t they interested in the success of the business?”

As a leader of teams, these questions used to be ones that occurred to me frequently. Why weren’t my team members showing up with the same enthusiasm and sense of ownership I had (sometimes)?

While this is a great result, these are the wrong questions to ask.

But wait – don’t we want our employees to be owning the results of their work? Won’t they be happier if they care? Why wouldn’t we ask how?

The “How to get them” questions all presuppose that the problem is over there and not over here.

Your employees have a relationship with the company and with management.

It’s a two way street.

And you only get to control one direction.

Wanting something from someone? or wanting something for someone?

Who do you trust more than anyone else, and who would you do anything for?

You might answer a parent, your spouse, your best friend, or someone like that. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to have a great mentor, or a great boss as well.

What made you trust them, and go the extra mile?

It’s because they genuinely had your interests in mind. They cared about you, and you knew that they cared about you, and you knew they weren’t going to lie to you to get what they wanted from you.

Do you know what your team wants? The individual members? The team as a team?

If you knew that, and let them know what you wanted, maybe there would be a path forward, where you can build that trust and relationship so that they’re engaged.

It is really hard to be 100% engaged doing a job just for the money, when there’s no path to what really matters to you.

Giving lip service to this is easy. Having some meetings, sharing some feelings.

But when do the gears really shift for people?

When it costs you something. When you have to make a decision between doing what you said you’d do for them and doing what’s easiest for you.

If you break your agreement with your team when management pushes a little, they’re going to know you’re not for real.

When you fight tooth and nail for what you’re creating together, even when it gets a little dicey, and they see that?

They’re going to show up for you in a completely new way.

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